What is the Highest Credit Score Possible and Is It Achievable?

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Everyone has a credit score, and many people wonder — What’s the highest credit score possible? Is that credit score achievable? If so, how? The highest credit score is 850, and it’s achievable through dedication to managing personal finances responsibly.

What Is a Credit Score?

A credit score is a number between 300 and 850 that calculates a person’s risk to lenders. Although a lot of factors go into calculating the score, higher scores typically mean better approval chances. There are two different credit-scoring systems, each with a few key differences.

FICO Credit Score

The FICO credit score system bases its numbers on these factors:

  • 35%: Payment history
  • 30%: Debt owed
  • 15%: Credit history length
  • 10%: New credit
  • 10%: Variety of credit.

After calculating each of these factors, there are five credit score ranges:

  • 300 to 580: Poor
  • 580 to 670: Fair
  • 670 to 740: Good
  • 740 to 800: Very good
  • 800 to 850: Exceptional.

VantageScore

The VantageScore system bases its numbers on five factors, although there aren’t specific weights applied to each one. VantageScore places the most emphasis on total credit usage, balances and available credit.

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Credit mix and experience is the next most important factor, with payment history falling in the middle. Age of credit history and new accounts opened are the less important factors, although VantageScore still takes them into account.

After calculating each of these factors, there are five credit score ranges:

  • 300 to 499: Very Poor
  • 500 to 600: Poor
  • 601 to 660: Fair
  • 661 to 780: Good
  • 781 to 850: Excellent.

No matter what the score and ranking, each lender takes a different approach when offering credit. Many lenders have customized algorithms to read the data on credit reports — not the score alone. This is good news for people with lower credit scores who may be improving their credit, but it still needs work.

The Big Difference

The three credit bureaus — Equifax, Experian and Transunion — all use the FICO score model to calculate a credit unique credit score. Because of this methodology, someone’s score may vary slightly between the three credit bureaus depending on the data they have.

Good To Know

Consumers can check their credit reports with each bureau for free once each year. Everyone should monitor their credit regularly to identify any discrepancies and prevent fraud.

VantageScore is the first scoring system to work the other way around. VantageScore takes a comprehensive look at a person’s credit from each bureau and combines it for a single score.

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Is it Possible to Achieve the Highest Possible Credit Score?

Experian estimates that 1.2% of all people have a perfect credit score of 850. While it’s possible, a perfect score is difficult to achieve and even more difficult to maintain.

Tips for Achieving a Perfect Credit Score

No negatives. Just as the word ‘perfect’ implies, there cannot be a single blemish on your credit report. This includes late or missed payments. If you have a dozen accounts between credit cards and loans, none can have a late payment — ever. Payment history is the most important factor when calculating a FICO credit score with a weight of 35%, although it’s less important for a VantageScore.

No balances. There is a myth that people have to use their credit cards to “earn” a credit score — but this isn’t true. This is the most important factor for a VantageScore and the second most important factor for a FICO credit score.

To achieve a perfect credit score, balances need to remain at zero, if not close to it. Higher credit utilization means a lower credit score, and the number may continue a downward spiral over time if balances stay high.

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Credit history. The average length of credit history for an 850 credit score is 30 years. If a person begins establishing credit the day they turn 18, they may be 48 before achieving a perfect score.

And that only happens if the person is responsible with their finances early in life. Many consumers stumble through their twenties as they figure out the best ways to utilize credit and make payments responsibly. This can lead to lower credit scores later in life.

Credit Score Takeaways

Consumers don’t need a perfect credit score to achieve financial goals like owning a house and qualifying for low-interest rates. Good, very good and excellent credit scores go a long way with lenders.

Low credit scores caused by past financial mistakes discourage many consumers. Keep in mind that there’s always time to recover and make better financial choices in the future. Credit scores may rise slowly after receiving negative marks, but it’s possible. Lenders often take improvement into account when calculating creditworthiness.

Our in-house research team and on-site financial experts work together to create content that’s accurate, impartial, and up to date. We fact-check every single statistic, quote and fact using trusted primary resources to make sure the information we provide is correct. You can learn more about GOBankingRates’ processes and standards in our editorial policy.

About the Author

Katy Hebebrand is a freelance writer with eight years of experience in the financial industry. She earned her BA from the University of West Florida and her MA from Full Sail University. Since beginning to work full-time as a freelance writer three years ago, she has written on topics spanning many fields, including home building, families and parenting, legal and professional/corporate communications.

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